After breaking through the film scene in the Philippines, award-winning filmmaker Mikhail Red has taken his skills and penchant for storytelling to an international audience. Having worked on projects with Star Cinema, Netflix and an upcoming series with HBO, Mikhail Red’s impressive and growing resume is just getting started. We caught up with Mikhail and asked him a few questions about his craft, influences, dream projects, and what to look out from him in 2020.
Tell us your story, how and when did it start?
I grew up watching lots of movies because my dad who is also a filmmaker would bring home different laser discs and VHS tapes. I was a writer at first but then naturally transitioned to visual storytelling when I was a teenager. At 15 I made my first short film "The Threshold" and got into an international film festival in Germany. I was inspired to continue making films, using cash prizes in Cinemalaya and Cinemanila to bankroll my projects. At 20 I submitted a feature length screenplay to Cinemalaya and got in. The title of my first feature was Rekorder, it was about film piracy but had mystery thriller elements to it. After that I went on to do international co-productions with films like Birdshot and Eerie, working with Netflix and eventually HBO. I also delved into genre film making with local studios like Star Cinema. I feel very fortunate that I was able to turn my calling into a sustainable career, I now make films full-time.
What did you want to be before you entered film making?
I wanted to be a writer, a novelist. I was also the editor-in-chief for the school paper and I was also sent to competitive essay writing contests by my school. I was always a storyteller at heart.
What is the best piece of advice you got from your father, Raymond Red?
You can make a good film without ever shouting at anyone on set. We're both pretty meek, introverted individuals, but we are able to articulate our vision and delegate tasks without being a dictator.
Do you have any pre-shooting rituals?
I listen to Ride of The Valkyries by Wagner during early morning convoy pull-outs. Gets me pumped up whenever I imagine that helicopter scene from Apocalypse Now.
What motivates you when working on a project?
I always like to challenge myself, I like working outside my comfort zone in both personal and commissioned projects. I take advantage of opportunities to learn something new. I enjoy switching genres and trying new film language techniques.
Who is the most interesting person you've worked with? why?
There are so many throughout my career but it would have to be Mam Charo Santos-Concio. Had to work with her both as an actress and head of a corporation. I had to pitch to her and direct her on set, she is an icon and I was a young director so I was intimidated at first but as I got to know her better I was completely fascinated by our work experience, learned so much.
What projects will you be working on in 2020?
I'm now shooting the first Philippine HBO Mini Series, Halfworlds season 3, I will be directing all 8 episodes of the season, it deals with Filipino folklore, mythical beings called Engkantos that live among humans in contemporary Society. Next up will be a Revenge Western movie titled Arisaka with Ten17P productions. We are also working on the prequel to EERIE with Star Cinema, The Grandstand, the story of the Manila hostage crisis a Hong Kong co-production with Globe Studios, written by Ricky Lee. Quantum Suicide a scifi project and Japan Coprod.
Top 3 MUST watch films?
Metropolis, Bicycle Thieves, Star Wars
Given the chance, what would your dream project be?
Directing a Star Wars film
Any advice for film makers making their first feature film?
Jump off that cliff and build your wings on the way down.
Mikhail Red is not exclusively signed with any local studio but is represented by Filmex Inc, for TV Commercial projects.
He is managed by 3 Arts Entertainment and represented by Paradigm Agency in the US for English language projects.
Photos property of Mikhail Red